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How to Become a Celebrity Bodyguard

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

We've all seen photos of tall, black-clad bodyguards protecting rich and famous people like Angelina Jolie, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence. The life of a bodyguard is hectic, glamorous, fast paced and often exciting. Guards are usually expected to travel on a moment's notice to exotic locales around the world to protect their clients. For those who care deeply about protecting others and making people feel safe, a career in celebrity security may be the perfect job.

Job Description

A personal bodyguard is a highly trained professional whose duty is to protect and accompany a high-profile individual like a Hollywood celebrity. Bodyguards help keep their clients out of harm's way and protect their clients from threats at all costs. They may be asked to manage crowds, chauffeur their clients to various locations or check out premises before their clients arrive.

Other standard bodyguard duties include exhaustive planning and researching to identify and prevent potential threats, accompanying clients to and from foreign locations, protecting the celebrity's reputation and, above all, remaining constantly alert to potentially threatening situations. Being a Hollywood bodyguard in particular isn't for the faint of heart. Guards are expected to be able to work in high-risk environments, often as part of a larger close-protection team.

A typical day in the life of a professional bodyguard could include anything from escorting the client to dinner or a social engagement, going to an awards ceremony, jetting off to a foreign movie premiere or just accompanying the client on day-to-day errands. When you work as a celebrity bodyguard, your schedule is not your own. You're often expected to eat when the celebrity eats (though you may not be allowed to sit at the same table), keep a low profile and be ready for virtually any situation that comes your way.

Celebrity Bodyguards vs. Bodyguards for Other Individuals

Of course, protecting celebrities as opposed to protecting government figures, corporate executives or other high-profile individuals is an entirely different ballgame. Celebrities are constantly in the public eye, and social media has made the job even harder since it can give fans the idea that they're communicating directly with the celebrity. Once an obsessive fan sees a celebrity post on Twitter or Instagram, they may then use location-based services to try to track down the celebrity, making things extra difficult for guards.

In many ways, being a celebrity bodyguard is one of the most dangerous security positions there is. The job also involves being hyperaware of certain things that other bodyguards may not need to understand, like knowing how to deal with often-unpredictable behavior and situations, knowing how to handle narcissistic personality types, remaining extremely patient and calm and respecting a client's confidentiality no matter what happens.

Education Requirements

Bodyguards are expected to carry out a wide range of duties, and therefore they must receive extensive training. There are no strict formal education requirements, though obtaining a four-year degree in criminal justice, law enforcement, sociology, political science or another related field isn't a bad idea. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, aspiring security officers and guards are often required to at least hold a high school diploma or GED, and a military background or a background in law enforcement is strongly preferred.

There are several certification programs for professional bodyguards to consider, and all bodyguards should be certified in first aid and CPR, know how to use a weapon and be able to drive. Most importantly, bodyguards must acquire certain tactical skills like specialized defensive techniques, hand-to-hand combat, disarming and knowing how to respond to threats.

Other bodyguard requirements include being in excellent physical shape, as this can be a physically (and mentally) rigorous profession. Often, you'll be required to stand for long periods of time, jump, kneel and engage in other physical activity that requires strong stamina and endurance. Celebrity bodyguards may train in yoga, Pilates, martial arts, cardio work and weightlifting or take personal gym sessions with a trainer to remain as physically fit and agile as possible.

Note that some states may require you to obtain a bodyguard license or secure authorization to carry a concealed weapon. Every state is different, so aspiring professional bodyguards should look up the requirements for their state. Each test is slightly different, but in general, you must schedule a physical exam and complete an online test.

In addition to certain formal requirements, celebrity bodyguards are extremely brave, able to remain calm under duress, able to detect suspicious movement, able to withstand long stretches of boredom and possess a strong sense of duty. Fearlessness and courage are an integral part of a bodyguard's psyche.

Industry

A celebrity bodyguard who offers personal, private protection for clientele will be expected to remain with a client at all times wherever they go. Usually, celebrity guards will be expected to accompany clients to and from their homes, but guards should also be prepared to travel halfway across the world on a moment's notice. A frenzied, far-flung schedule is part of the job.

Keep in mind too that celebrities often recommend their celebrity security teams to other celebrities. If you have a sterling reputation in the industry, you can expect to have plenty of word-of-mouth referrals and recommendations. Once you've made a name for yourself in the industry, this usually matters more than whatever background, qualifications or certifications you have.

Celebrity bodyguards may go on to work in related industries, taking jobs in the private sector or government as private security guards. In addition, professional bodyguards are well equipped to handle most if not all jobs in security, protection or surveillance.

Years of Experience and Salary

While specific data is not available for celebrity bodyguards, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does offer relevant data for security guards and gaming surveillance officers. These are officers who are paid to patrol and protect property against vandalism, theft and other illegal activity.

According to the BLS, gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators were paid a median annual salary of $32,680 in May 2018. The median annual salary for security guards was $28,490 in May 2018. This means that half of all people in this occupation made more than the salary quoted, while the other half made less.

In May 2018, the median annual wages for security guards in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

  • Government: $34,490
  • Educational services

    state, local and private: $33,120 Health care and social assistance: $32,950 Investigation, guard and armored car services: $27,100

Job Growth Trend

The BLS found that the number of jobs for security guards and surveillance officers was 1,133,900 in 2016, which is the base year of the 2016 to 2026 employment projections. The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026 is estimated to be about 6 percent. This number is slightly lower than the average growth rate for all occupations, which is 7 percent. There is no data available for celebrity bodyguard jobs.

According to the BLS, overall future job opportunities for gaming surveillance officers and security guards should be excellent since guards and officers will continue to be needed to protect both people and property. The large size of the occupation and the number of workers who leave the occupation every year should result in many job openings.

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About the Author

Justine Harrington is based in Austin, where she writes about current trends in workplace wellness, co-working, and millennial career culture. Her work has been published in Forbes, USA Today, Fodor's, Marriott Traveler, SAS Airlines, the Austin American-Statesman, Austin Monthly, and dozens of other print and online publications.